Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Great Cassarole Experiment

There are days when my dubious skills as a short order cook collide with reality in a very big way. Today - was one of those days. We recently took possession of 190 pounds of beef. Wonderful drug free, grain fed, locally grown beef. It was comparatively inexpensive, and it is really quite delicious. I can foresee us eating a bit more beef than usual. In fact, since ice cream season will be upon us before we know it and there is no room for ice cream in our freezers, we will be featuring beef in some fashion prominently in the menu plan for the next few weeks!

Beef - it's what's for dinner!

The problem is that it is frozen. Solid.
I am used to cooking with fresh beef - not often do I use frozen beef.
We live too close to the grocery store, I know.

I am used to thinking about dinner in the morning and making my preparations then, so that our day will go smoothly. Or as smoothly as possible! Yesterday I checked the menu - meatloaf! I thought I'd better take out the beef and start it thawing - and I did! This morning it was not one iota softer than when I placed the frozen brick in the fridge to thaw. So I gave it some time. By 4 o'clock I realized that a plan B might be in order - there was no way that brick was going to work it's frostiness into anything remotely resembling a meatloaf. No way.

Plan B - inspired by RuthAnn from Warm Pie, Happy Home who shared her wonderful recipe for Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie HERE. If you get a chance to make this recipe, do! It was yummy and so simple! Since I made it, I've been pondering an idea. I've been thinking that almost any casserole with noodles could be adapted toRuthAnn's method, and since I am all about simple and dirtying just one pan, I thought I'd take a simple family casserole recipe and try it out!
Time was running short!

See the rock of ground beef?

Well, it eventually thawed and browned. I drained the fat, though there wasn't as much as grocery store hamburger - and I usually spend $ more for the leaner cuts!

I added a chopped cooking onion and cooked it for about 3 more minutes until it was soft and translucent.

Added salt, pepper and some basil that I dried last summer when the garden was in full swing.

I threw in the two cans of condensed soup called for - one tomato and one mushroom.
Then I added 3 cups of hot water and a pinch more salt to make up for the salt that pre-cooked noodles would have added. It made for an ugly soupy mess, but I didn't loose heart!

I threw in the two cups of fine noodles called for in the recipe - forced them under the liquid, and put a lid on the whole mess.
At this point the kids were in doubt - in fact, they were down right worried.
Uncooked noodles in a soupy mess isn't exactly appealing!

After 5 minutes I pulled off the lid and gave it a stir. Another five minutes and it was looking much much more promising!

I added two table spoons of Worcester sauce and gave it a final stir, then put the lid on for about 5 more minutes.

In the meantime, I decided I needed an effective bribe! Fluffy homemade biscuits to the rescue!

I grated about two cups of sharp cheddar because I have never really understood grated cheese in packages, and besides, I like to take my life in my own hands on a regular basis.
This time, I didn't grate off any digits! Yeah!

After sprinkling the cheese on the noodled mess, I threw the whole skillet under the broiler for about 4 minutes until everything was good and bubbly!

I put my 'bribe' fresh from the oven into a basket and dinner ( along with a salad) was ready.
They had to eat 5 bites of Mama's mess before they got a biscuit! Surprisingly, they liked it. Dreamer even recognized it as an oldie but goodie 'Graces Beef Noodle Casserole'.

So, there you go. Can you make a casserole start to finish in 30 minutes while only dirtying one skillet? Yes, you can. For once my short order cook calamity took a turn for the good, and everyone went from the table full.

We are so very very blessed.
Wouldn't you agree?

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1 comment:

  1. That looks delicious to me. I am a casserole girl for sure....LOVE THEM! You even made homemade biscuits...WOW...that makes the meal just FABULOUS!!!


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